Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Parlez-Vous Bunny?

Consequences of people not recognizing animals' intelligence are often seen in domestic animals. Because animals are not merely instinct-driven, but have to learn just like humans do, problems in socialization can occur if their needs aren't respected, both in terms of socialization to humans and socialization to others of their own kind.

Here's an article from The Friends of Rabbits that describes the socialization process between two rabbits when they are introduced to each other.

The article says,
Because we humans isolate rabbits to make them our companions, many have a limited vocabulary for social interaction. They simply do not know what to do when they meet another rabbit, having been removed from all members of their own species at infancy. They have had no one with whom to converse in their native language. I often wonder what an adult rabbit is feeling as he re-encounters another of his kind after such separation and loss. Were a human to experience this, his story would be a most poignant tale. Rabbits who have had, and then lost, a partner -- our widows and widowers -- have a much greater social repertoire at the outset of a new relationship.

Rabbits whose initial instincts drive them to chase and mount eventually learn to interact face to face. Their partner teaches them, using the materials at hand and her own ingenuity.
The article goes on to describe the initial interactions of a male and female rabbit. The male had been confined alone in an outdoor hutch for six years. I don't know what his previous owners could possibly have been thinking... but fortunately there are people like The Friends of Rabbits who pay attention.

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